ROCKFORD (AP) — Relatives and friends say they're remembering four family members, including two children, who died almost a year ago in a Rockford fire.
The January blaze killed 61-year-old Sharon Cashatt, her 21-year-old son Douglas Cashatt and her grandchildren, 10-month-old Isabella Gonzalez and 13-year-old Dominick Cashatt.
The four were found dead Jan. 7 following a fire that authorities say was sparked by an outlet overloaded with Christmas lights. A nearby Christmas tree fueled the flames.
"Everyone has been handling this as well as they can and we're just trying to move on with life," said Patrick Cashatt, whose mother, brother, niece and nephew were killed in the fire.
Alan Leon taught Dominick Cashatt and told the Rockford Register Star (http://bit.ly/19MpRkZ ) he'll always remember the kind, cheerful teenager.
"He got along with everybody and he was so genuinely kind, so genuinely giving," said Leon.
A memorial scholarship fund at Rockford's Thurgood Marshall School has collected about $4,000 in the boy's memory.
Fire officials say the lone smoke detector found in the family's home didn't have a battery. After the blaze, firefighters visited homes in the neighborhood to distribute free smoke detectors and swap out old batteries.
"It was hard for everyone in the fire department and when you look at the age of the victims and they are closer in age to your own children, it hits closer to home," said Department District Chief Matthew Knott.
Information from: Rockford Register Star, http://www.rrstar.com